tv PBS News Hour PBS June 29, 2011 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: president obama scolded lawmakers today warning of a looming debt deadline and saying that tax increases must be part of a deal to reduce the deficit. good evening, i'm jeffrey brown. >> warner: and i'm margaret warner. on the "newshour" tonight, we excerpt the president's news conference and assess the current impasse with two senators: new jersey democrat robert menendez and wyoming republican john barrasso. >> brown: then, we get the latest on the insurgent attack on a kabul hotel from pam constable of the "washington post" in afghanistan. >> warner: miles o'brien has the story of some do-it-yourself projects that are fun and serious all at once. >> what does a rolling cupcake have to do with teaching kids about science, technology, and mathematics? well, it's all about the frosting, i'll explain. >> brown: and judy woodruff talks to a father and daughter
team-- marvin and deborah kalb, whose new book looks at t shadow cast by the vietnam war on today's military decisions. >> they had to win and yet they lost and so presidents after keep looking back at that experience and say we can't run that risk. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i mean, where would we be without small businesses? >> we need small businesses. >> they're the ones that help drive growth. >> like electricians, mechanics, carpenters. >> they strengthen our communities. >> every year, chevron spends billions with small businesses. that goes right to the heart of local communities, providing jobs, keeping people at work. they depend on us. >> the economy depends on them. >> and we depend on them.
>> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy productive life. >> brown: president obama challenged republicans today to compromise on taxes or risk letting the country default on its debt. he rejected criticism of his leadership on the issue, and instead, took his critics to task, in blunt terms. the president used his first white house news conference in three months to insist that congressional leaders put everything on the table-- spending, benefits programs like medicare, and tax increases for the wealthy in a bid to cut the national debt. >> call me naive, but my expectation is that leaders are going to lead. the republicans say they want to reduce the deficit. every single observer who's not
an elected official, who's not a politician says we can't reduce our deficit in the scale and scope that we need to without having a balanced approach that looks at everything. democrats have to accept some painful spending cuts that hurt some of our constituencies and we may not like. and we've shown a willingness to >> brown: vice president biden has led talks on reducing the deficit by $4 trillion, while raising the federal debt ceiling. the talks broke down last week, as republicans refused again to support tax increases. instead, they pressed for deeper spending cuts. the president said today even medicare and medicaid might need today, the president said if republicans focus solely on spending, it will mean cutting everything from college scholarships to food inspections. >> if everybody else is willing to take on their sacred cows and do tough things in order to
achieve the goal of real deficit reduction, then i think it would be hard for the republicans to stand there and say that the tax breaks for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we're not willing to come to the table and get a deal done, or we're so concerned about protecting oil and gas subsidies for oil companies that are making money hand over fist, that's the reason we're not going to come to a deal. i don't think that's a sustainable position. rather than later, come to the conclusion that they need to >> brown: still, senate republican leaders showed no sign of giving way. instead, even as the president spoke, they called for a constitutional amendment to limit spending. >> our view is a good first step is a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. we think it's pretty clear that
everybody else has been willing to move off their maximalist position and they need to do the same. >> brown: still, senate republican leaders showed no sign of giving way. instead, even as the president spoke, they called for a constitutional amendment to limit spending. >> our view is a good first step is a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. we think it's pretty clear that regardless of what we are ultimately able to negotiate here in the short term, that we put the federal government in this kind of fiscal straightjacket for the future so we cannot get in this situation again. >> brown: that situation now revolves around an august 2 deadline to raise the national debt ceiling-- the amount the government is allowed to borrow. if no agreement is in place, it could mean a national default. with that in mind, president obama lectured lawmakers to learn a lesson from his two young daughters. >> malia and sasha generally finish their homework a day ahead of time. ( laughter ) malia's 13, sasha's 10. it is impressive. they don't wait until the night before. they're not pulling all- nighters. ( laughter ) they're 13 and 10.
you know, congress can do the same thing. if you know you've got to do something, just do it. >> brown: the president rejected republican complaints that he show more leadership. he said his critics need to act like leaders and stop taking time off. >> they're in one week; they're out one week. and then, they're... they're saying, "obama's got to step in it. u need to be here." ( laughter ) i've been here. i've been doing afghanistan and bin laden and... the greek crisis, and... ( laughter ) you stay here. let's get it done. >> brown: in the meantime, treasury secretary timothy geithner rejected suggestions from some republicans that the
government could temporarily pay just the interest on the national debt, rather than raise the borrowing limit. in a letter to south carolina geithner insisted he cannot stave off default if the august deadline is ignored. and the international monetary fund issued its own warning, urging u.s. lawmakers to reach a deficit agreement and raise the debt ceiling. >> we wouldn't want to get into hypotheticals, but suffice it to say it should be self-evident. a debt default in the u.s. government debt market would have very serious, far-reaching, dramatic repercussions. and that's why we are confident it will be avoided. >> brown: toward that end, the president met this afternoon with senate democratic leaders, looking for a way to move the discussions forward. and with the president blasting lawmakers, we get a response from two senators: wyoming republican john barrasso, a member of his party's leadership team.
and new jersey democrat robert menendez, who sits on the finance committee. senator barrasso, start with you the president said he thinks the republicans must and will give some ground on tax revenues. will they? is there any room for movement? >> no, there really is not. 9.1% unemployment, the worst thing we should do is raise taxes on anyone during economic times like these. we want to get people back to work. the way to increase revenue for the government is to get people back to work. a robust, growing economy is the way to have more tax revenue coming in, not by raising taxes in these economic times. >> but the argument from the president is unless we do that, we won't get an agreement, we'll have a default and that will be even worse for the economy and jobs. >> well, i think the president is making the economy worse in many ways and wanting to raise taxes in s one of them. a lot of the rules and regulations coming out of his administration is making it harder and more expensive for the private sector to create jobs and as a republican, a
conservative, i'm looking at ways to make it cheaper and easier for the private sector to create job. >> brown: at the same time, the president referred to sacred cows. dlauz mean medicare, medicaid must be on the table? should americans be told to expect some changes to their benefits in the future? >> well, before we get to that, it just seems to me that only in washington could taking away $21 billion in tax breaks to the top five oil companies is somehow raising taxes. average americans don't get those tax breaks and certainly to t oil companies will make $144 billion in profit this is year alone don't need that from the american taxpayers. ethanol, which an overwhelming number of republicans and democrats supported in a vote about a week ago in terms of eliminating those subsidies to the tune of $2, $2.5 billion, is another opportunity to stop giving tax breaks to an entity that doesn need it and give the american taxpayer relief.
so as we talk about sacred cows, it seems to me that those need to be on the table as well if we're going to be talking about medicaid and medicare. >> brown: senator barrasso, what about that? why are those kinds of targeted tax hits that the president is talking about, why are those unacceptable at the very high end? >> people all around the country are already feeling the pain at the pump. they're paying about a dollar a gallon more for gasoline than they did last year at this time. the average family in this coury, they're going to be paying about $800 more this year to fill their tanks than they did last year over the course of the year. so i don't think raising the energy costs for american families-- which is what's going to happen if the president gets his way with wanting to raise taxes-- that's not going to improve lives for families who are trying to put food on the table and people are noticing the increased cost of groceries as well and trying to get their kids off to school and clothing on their banks. so i don't think that raising
energy costs is the way to go. >> brown: well, senator menendez come back to my question about medicare and medicaid as sacred cows, because i want to see where the lines are here on both sides. should americans... again, should americans be told by democrats and by the president to expect that their benefits are going to have to be on the table in the future? >> well, again, if we are going to do that, it has knob the totality. you know, republicans have a view that it is only their way or the highway. it is their view that, you know, big oil should keep all their tax breaks and, to be honest with you, to suggest that the cost of gasoline is going to rise because instead of making $144 billion in profits the oil companies would make $142 billion in profits is pretty surrealistic in my mind. so, yes, everything, spending cuts, defense cuts, looking at
entitlements under medicare and medicaid and revenues need to be part of the equation but for so long as whether we have this ideologically driven particularly in the house on the tea party, the focus, that no revenue whatsoever, including eliminating tax breaks for big oil, eliminating tax breaks for ethanol, eliminating other tax breaks that only a very few americans get to the cost of all americans, that that's somehow is a tax increase, well, then we're going to be headed to a very bad conclusion here because i have to be honest with you, if we do not meet the nation's debt obligation then the consequences are going to be indplebl the marketplace, people will lose significant amounts of the values of their retirement portfolios and 401(k)s. they will see contraction by companies that instead of investing and creating jobs they'll say, oh, no, i'm going to hold back and we will put this economy back into recession. and that's what the republicans are playing with.
>> brown: well let me ask that to senator barrasso because that... the consequences question, i'm not hearing much room for compromise from either of you in this discussion. so do you accept what the president said, what senator menendez just said, that we are up against a deadline, that the consequences are rather bad? >> we are up against a deadline so it's good that finally the president has gotten involved and gotten engaged in this. the democrats haven't brought a budget to pass the senate in over 790 days in this country. since the last time the democrats passed a budget in the senate the national debt has risen 3.2 trillion. so i think it is about time that the president has gotten engaged. i want to work together to find a solution but when the president says a balanced approach, i want a balanced budget. we need aalanced budget amendment to the constitution. we need to, as a nation, live within our means. families all across america have
to do that. many states balance their budget every year. we certainly to in wyoming. it's time to have a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. >> brown: well, you both talk of urgency and yet weeks keep going and there isn't that much time until august 2. senator barrasso, starting with you, wouldn't citizens at home be listening to this and wondering if there really is a sense of urgency in washington? what do you say? >> well, there certainly is on my side of the aisle. i see the president had a debt commission and essentially ignored it and then the vice president had some talks and finally now this past week the president has gotten engaged. he said that members should stay here over the... stay here working. i wanted to stay here over memorial day, signed a letter to harry reid, the democrat leader of the senate, as did all of my colleagues saying "we should be working on this today" he said "no, no, take a break, go home." we ought to be working on this and finding solutions and i think one of the ways to go is balancing the budget and committing us as a nation to balancing the budget because you
cannot continue with this kind of debt. it's irresponsible, it's unsustainable and the ongoing spending is the problem. americans don't complain about being taxed too little, it's that we as a nation spend too much. >> brown: senator menendez, what's your response to the urgency question, what people at home should think as they listen to this debate, as they watch the president, watch what's going on. >> well, there's no question that there is a sense of urgency we had over 200 economists-- including several nobel prize winners-- who said "you must raise the debt ceilingtor consequences to this economy are enormous, the consequences to average americans are enormous as well. loss of job opportunity, recession, loss of retirement income just to name a few. a global consequence of if the united states default which is means reverberations even further back here at home. so, you know, but, look, slogans and letters and staying in won't
get us anywhere. what's going to get us somewhere is, as we did in 1992/'93 when we had bill clinton and the deficit reduction act. we had entitlement changes, we had very significant spending cuts and we had revenue. that created the first balanced budget in a generation. record surpluses. low interest rates, low inflation and the greatest peacetime economy in over a generation. there is an equation to do that, we need to get back to that equation again. >> brown: just briefly, senator menendez, do you see signs that that could happen? >> i am still optimistic at the end of the day that my republican colleagues will come to understand that they cannot afford for the country to allow the country to default on its obligations. families at home understand the consequences on defaulting on their obligations, the nation cannot afford the default on it. >> brown: briefly, senator barrasso, do you have pope? >> i do have hope but the president wants a blank check and a new credit card and i'm not willing to give it to him.
>> brown: senators barrasso and menendez, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> warner: still to come on the "newshour": the brazen attack on a kabul hotel; the art of making things and the shadow of the vietnam war. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: lawmakers in greece endorsed new austerity measures today in the face of chaos in the streets of athens. the $40 billion package of spending cuts and tax hikes is designed to win another round of bailout funding from the european union and stave off default. we have a report from jonathan rugman of "independent television news." >> reporter: several hours before today's vote, the square in front of parliament descended into chaos. protestors pelting everything they could at riot police. even lumps of marble hacked from in the back streets, police reinforcements came under attack. a violent minority of protestors clearly out for trouble. but opinion polls suggest that 80% of greeks oppose the tax rises and spending cuts which now threaten their livelihoods.
the anger here is widespread. 800 000 greeks have seen their public sector salaries cut by 10% in the last year. and this is just the start. not voting as the day wore on, the pitched battles became even more intense. the mayhem symbolizing the struggle for greece's future at an epic moment. greeks watching at home could see their prime minister speaking inside parliament and pandemonium just beyond it. "we have to stop our country from collapsing."
mr. papandreou said, urging a yes to reform. "and this extraordinary admission: the financial system," he said, "is stronger than the will of the people." and for m.p.s barricaded inside, today's vote was a bitter pill to swallow. one showed me the hate mail he'd received from apoplectic constituents. "the measures are unpopular," he said, "but i am voting yes with a heavy heart, for the country and for the unity of europe." this socialist refused to tow his governing party's line. and he was the only one who dared vote no. >> ( translated ): greece is being blackmailed by europe over these measures. this is economic fascism, like hitler! i feel betrayed by the other governments of europe. >> reporter: despite the anarchy on its doorstep, greece's parliament was today terrified effectively told by the prime minister that scenes like these will be child's play, if greece doesn't obey europe's orders. "we either follow the path of change, or the path of
destruction," he said. >> sreenivasan: the parliament must vote tomorrow on a companion bill which implements the austerity plan. in egypt, riot police clashed with hundreds of youths in cairo for a second day. demonstrators threw rocks and firebombs as security forces used tear gas to disperse the crowds. officials reported more than a thousand people had been injured since the trouble started on tuesday. the protesters are demanding speedier trials for police accused of brutality in the uprising that ousted president hosni mubarak this year. a court in pakistan has indicted six paramilitary rangers and a civilian on charges of murdering an unarmed teenager. the killing was caught on this video, broadcast on pakistani t.v. it showed officers shooting 17- year-old sarfraz shah at close range, in a park in karachi. today's indictment was a rare example of the pakistani justice system taking on the country's powerful security apparatus. president obama won an important legal victory today on his health care overhaul.
a federal appeals court in cincinnati ruled the government does have the right to mandate that americans buy health insurance. a number of other legal challenges to the mandate are still working their way through the federal court system. the issue is expected to end up before the u.s. supreme court. a wildfire in northern new mexico kept growing today and raised new concerns about the los alamos nuclear lab. fire crews battled erratic winds that have pushed the blaze across 108 square miles. and officials said they're checking air quality in case flames reach the lab's waste dumps and create toxic smoke. >> i asked our teams to deploy our high volume air monitors. we've had four of those out ow and we have an additional seven i believe that are going out in the next day or so. the reason the high volume monitors are important is they let us collect a lot of data very quickly so that we can understand what's happening and if we see changes, we'll see them quickly. >> sreenivasan: the lab officials and fire managers said initial air samples showed no signs of contamination.
the owners of a west virginia coal mine kept fake safety records before an explosion killed 29 men last year. the federal mine safety and health administration reported that today. it found that massey energy kept two sets of books on the upper big branch mine. one included the mine's safety violations, and one was sanitized to mislead inspectors. the agency said it referred the matter to federal prosecutors. california's latest budget crisis has eased for now. the state legislature approved an $86 billion budget last night, closing a deficit of nearly $10 billion. it passed with only democratic votes, and included cuts to social services, parks and the state unate university system. democratic governor jerry brown tried and failed to win republican support for tax increases. bank of america will pay $8.5 million based on claims it sold subprime mortgages based on bad investments.
they lost all or most of their value in the housing meltdown. the settlement could prove a similar model for lawsuits against other banks. it's subject to court approval. wall street closed higher for a third straight day. the dow jones industrial average gained more than 72 points to close at 12,261. the nasdaq rose 11 points to close at 2740. a protest by saudi arabian women-- demanding the right to drive-- has run into its first roadblock. an activist reported today that authorities detained at least five women who had been driving in jiddah, on the red sea coast. police said only one woman was involved. a small group of saudi women began challenging the bar against female drivers two weeks ago. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to margaret. >> warner: and to last night's spectacular strike on a kabul landmark. the taliban attack shook any semblance of calm in the afghan capital. the elaborately planned attack turned the intercontinental hotel into a burning hulk. a squad of some eight or nine taliban fighters-- armed with suicide vests and grenade launchers-- staged a night-time
assault. more than five hours later, nearly a dozen hotel guests and staff lay dead and the attackers did, too. their target-- known as the "inter-con"-- sits atop a saddleback ridge dividing kabul about five miles from the u.s. embassy and the afghan presidential palace. around 10:00 p.m. local time, uthorities say, the insurgents blasted or shot their way past the first checkpoint at the bottom of a steep access road. they breached a second checkpoint at the top and broke through the front-door security screening area into the hotel itself. frightened guests scattered or hid, as afghan security forces responded. afghan police reportedly got there first, sealing off the surrounding area and cutting power to the hotel. wild gunfire and explosions echoed through the night. but the standoff didn't end until after 3:00 a.m., when nato helicopters swooped in and killed three gunmen on the roof, touching off a fire.
>> ( translated ): it has been cleared totally, we deployed our forces back to make sure everything is okay. >> warner: the taliban claimed responsibility while the fight was underway. but it remained unclear how the attackers managed to defeat the supposedly extensive security at the hotel. today, an afghan security agency spokesman said current renovation work at the hotel might offer a clue. >> the insurgents are using every means to infiltrate into tight security areas. they might have camouflaged themselves as laborers, as technicians or whatever. >> warner: the brazen assault came just as high profile afghan officials were gathering for a conference on transitioning to afghan security control, as u.s. and nato forces draw down. in a statement, president hamid karzai insisted that such incidents will not stop us from transitioning security of our country.
at his white house news conference, president obama said while attacks like last night's will continue, the afghans are already showing they're up to the challenge. >> kabul has been largely policed by afghan forces for quite some time, and they've done a reasonably good job. kabul is much safer than it was, and afghan forces in kabul are much more capable than they were. >> warner: the president touted the training of afghan forces as making possible the u.s. drawdown he announced last week. >> we've got an additional 100,000 afghan troops, both army and police, that have been trained as a consequence of this surge. and that is going to give the afghans more capacity to defend themselves. >> warner: the withdrawal is slated to remove by the end of next summer. all 33,000 additional u.s. troops that mr. obama ordered there at the end of 2009. some 70,000 will remain.
for more on the attack and what it bodes for the transition to afghan security control, we turn to pamela constable of the "washington post." i spoke to her a short while ago in kabul. pam constable, thanks for joining us. you've been up to that hotel, the intercontinental today, what are the eyewitnesses telling you about what it was like? >> there was panic, there was horror, there was chaos, there was shock. you know, i talked to one elderly muslim cleric who spent five hours hiding around table and behind a pillar while people behind him were being shot. there were scenes of mass confusion and chaos, lots of loud noises, gun fire, unexplode unexplained explosions-- which were suicide bombers blowing themselves up-- others were coming from grenade launchers.
these guys had a very heavy arsenal with them. so this was, you know, a very determined and brutal assault and you had hundreds of people at late night enjoying the evening, having dinner, getting ready for a conference and all of a sudden it seemed like, you know, world war iii iii. >> warner: and what more have you found out object how they managed to breach security there and get in in the first place? >> it's stale mystery. the government officials don't really is an explanation for it and it raises a lot of questions about their own ability to secure the city, which we can talk about in a minute. but as the introduction suggested, they were very well prepared, they had a lot of explosives were them. they had a truck that was able to breach both of these entry points and that is steep... a hotel at the top of a steep
hill. they were able to get through the first, get through second, blew up the truck at the entrance to the hotel and just went in shooting and shot every guard in sight and kept going. but that's just the very end of a long and i'm sure very careful process on their part. >> lehrer: how well did the afghan security forces respond? what have you learned about that? >> i think they probably responded as well as could be hoped or expected. there were already quite a few security forces on the scene because there was this big conference coming up on the transition and afghan officials from around the country were staying at the hotel. many of them also had numerous bodyguards of their own. so there was lots of firepower around. but, you know, the afghan security forces, especially police, are not well known for being highly organized or quickly reactive. i think it took them some time to figure out how to respond. and you have these guys fanning throughout the hotel, some of
them with suicide vests, some of them with heavy weapons... all of them with heavy weapons, and i think there was some delay in getting organized because it was more than five hours, between 10:30 and up until 3:00 in the morning they were still roaming the hotel, they were still shooting people, they were still causing mayhem and the forces were really not able to repel them. and finally-- and i think probably reluctantly-- they did call in nato and it was those nato choppers that finally eliminated the last two terrorists on the roof. >> warner: why do you say reluctantly. >> number one, it's a matter of great national pride that the afghan security forces can do the job. they've gotten lots of money, lots of training from the west and as you've discussed before in the introduction, they're about to take over. i mean part of the deal is that with this transition and this drawdown of troops as well as civilian people in afghanistan
that beginning in these seven areas, including kabul and then gradually extending across the rest of the country within the next three years, afghan security and defense will be 100% in afghan hands. and that's something that the government of president karzai has repeatedly said and said again today will happen no matter what. we're going step up to the plate, we're going to do it right. but as today's... sorry, as last night's attack showed, that may not be as easy as people think. and i think's a great, great deal of concern along with the national pride, along with that desire to make it happen it's a great deal of concern about what will happen to kabul and the rest of the country when the western forces do leave. >> warner: as you said, there are these seven areas already, and i think we have a map, everything from mazar shariff in the north all the way down to hell and in the south that are supposed to transition next month to full afghan control. what would you stay security
situation is today right now in those areas. is it improving or deteriorating? >> it's a varied picture. i visited one area that's going to be transitioned, if f that's a verb, and there was a lot of mixed feelings there. a lot of people, again, would like to get the western troops out but are not quite sure what will happen if they leave. most people said it will be fine in the provincial capital, that's well enough guarded. but once you get out to the outlike areas, rural areas near to the pakistan boarder where the taliban have been known to come and roam freely and other insurgents, people are very, very worried those areas are going to become off limits to security forces and even to governing authorities which is... that's a slippery slope because when you get districts that are not governed than that creates more of a momentum for the taliban and other insurgents. we also had a reporting from
herat where people have been very proud of their ability to dhaefd city for a long time but just recently there was a terrible attack on the aalian military and civilian aid mission out there. so really i think it's a very mixed picture. there's certain places in president north i think people feel fairly confident will go well but places in the south, helmand is still a strong redoubt of insurgency. so i don't think anybody is expressing great confidence that these early transitions will necessarily go well. >> warner: pamela constable of the "washington post," thanks for staying up late to talk to us and stay safe. >> okay, thank you very much, margaret. >> brown: next, making the stuff of science and making learning about it more fun for kids. "newshour" science correspondent miles o'brien shows us how.
>> reporter: at first blush, it all seems so typically suburban. but, clearly, this is not your if you want to keep up these jones, you best stock up on propane, power tools and polymers they are the deroses of san rafael, california-- dad tony, and his sons sam and joseph. they are superstars of a vibrant, growing subculture called the maker movement, which celebrates, venerates the art of designing and building really cool things. when we met them in their garage workshop, they were hard at work trying to top the fire breathing dragon with a superhero suit with an embedded arm cannon brimming with lights and wired for sound.
they admit it's gotten a little out of hand. >> the projects started small, then we started scaling up a bit, and now it's completely out of control. >> reporter: out of control is the word. do you guys feel like things snowball in this garage? >> yeah. >> oh yeah. for sure. >> reporter: but for makers, out of hand is what it's all about. and that's the driving force behind the annual maker faire. and what do you scream, you scream faster, right? do it. >> ( screams ) >> reporter: ( laughs ) for five years now, makers from all over the san francisco bay area have flocked to the san mateo events center in the spring show off their latest do it yourself creations. it's like a county fair for clever techno nerds. the people and the projects run a wild, wacky gamut. six-foot-long battleships shooting at each other with live ammo. d.i.y. surveillance drones and a giant talking giraffe, to name just a few. >> i am the electric giraffe.
>> reporter: maker faire is billed as an event to "celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the do-it- yourself mindset." this is the kind of place where it wouldn't even faze you to see a rolling cupcake. but if you're asking why, you've kind of missed the point. the point is, why not? the faire sprung from the bible of this mindset-- the quarterly magazine called "make." the pages are filled with cool do-it-yourself projects from cool do-it-yourselfers. dale dougherty is the-- well-- inventor of "make" and maker faire and is an evangelist for the gospel of geekdom. we are in a kids "don't try this at home society," right? >> we are, absolutely. read about it, watch it, let's play a video or let's just do it digitally. and what we're saying is kids are disengaged. >> reporter: the "make" offices in sabastapol california are brimming with contraptions that have been featured in the magazine.
toothbrush bots, rockets and a re-purposed alarm clock that shuts off when blasted with a phaser gun-- the ultimate snooze button. i want to sleep! i want to sleep some more. it may look like a lot of silliness, but dougherty is on a mission-- to remind americans that it is fun to build things, or for that matter, take them apart. >> i see making is a gateway to engineering and science. when i talk to engineers and scientists, i ask them, "what fascinated you as a kid?" and someone said, "you know, i used to take refrigerators apart." and his field is bio-mechanics. he says, "now, i look at animals the way i used to look at those refrigerators." >> reporter: that's where the young makers come in. kids like these sixth graders are mentored by adult makers to design and build something cool and fun. in this case, a seesaw that pumps water by this time, we were getting in the spirit, so we gave them a
camera to make their own video diary, of course. >> now, we're figuring out how long the handle should be in order that you don't squash your knees. >> reporter: kid stuff right? well, not entirely. dale dougherty sees it as a way to tackle a big, simmering national problem. american kids are not doing wel in science and math and the numbers are not pretty. in math, a science exam given to students all over the world in 2009, u.s. kids placed 25th in math and 17th in science. numbers like that are prompting concern at the highest levels in washington. >> it is unacceptable to me, and i know it's unacceptable to you, for us to be ranked on average as 21st or 25th. not with so much at stake. we don't play for second place here in america. we certainly don't play for 25th. so i've set this goal: we will move from the middle to the top in math and science ecation over the next decade. >> reporter: but how to make that happen?
the administration is primarily relying on the private sector to step up to the plate and maker faire fits the bill. in fact, one of president obama's top science advisers was here at the maker faire with his kids. we caught up with tom kalil near a giant, water-spraying swingset. >> one of president's goals is to get more young girls and boys excited about what's called s.t.e.m.-- science, technology, engineering and math, and i believe that the maker movement, the maker culture, is a really powerful way of doing that. >> reporter: maybe so and there is some reason to believe the make movement is taking root in schools, filling the void that was left when shop classes disappeared a generation ago. at lighthouse community charter school in oakland, science teacher aaron vanerwerff has, true to form, done it himself. he created a class where high school kids design and build projects for the maker faire so, were you impressed with their ideas? >> i was impressed that-- i was mostly impressed with the fact
that they were all excited about their ideas. it can help the students learn science content and it can also help the students become the innovators of tomorrow. the hope is they go on to their lives and maybe a couple of years down the road i could actually build this thing because i know that i can do that. or in the extreme or more extreme case they go become and engineer or a designer. >> reporter: at the very least, they get a chance to see what is inside some familiar items to get a sense of how they work. "guitar hero" like i've never seen it before! "guitar hero" exposed! alex hopes he can kludge this "guitar hero" into a robot controller and hope to turn these old bikes into a surrey for two. working with some mentors, they got to work hoping to be done in time for the faire. so what's your plan here, jorge? >> so i'm trying to do a rube goldberg machine. this is actually the start of
it. as i go, i'm going to continue it. >> reporter: so you haven't drawn it out? >> no, i have not. >> reporter: it's freeform engineering. >> yeah. >> reporter: and you don't know where it's going to lead you? >> nope. >> reporter: of course, in the short term, it led him here. 90,000 came to the maker faire this year-- a record. organizers are now running faires in detroit and new york and are working on franchising the idea so any community can join the fun. he has created a kit and some plans for what he calls maker sheds. he is hoping they will start popping up near schools all across the nation-- johnny solder-seed, if you will. you're a little subversive aren't you? >> i want kids to be subversive in the best possible way. >> reporter: when we met the deroses on gameday morning at maker faire, you could cut the tension with a ray gun. they had barely slept in days. no quick changes in a phone booth for this superhero. suiting up is a 20-minute
physical and technical ordeal. what's it like seeing peoples' reactions? >> oh, it's great. we've been following him. just the surprise on people's faces. first, the lk of recognition. did you make that? and then the look of pride on his face. plan. >> reporter: and what about the high school students in aaron vanderwerff's class? frankly, it was a mixed bag. for jorge... the rube goldberg idea didn't gel according to plan. well, actually the problem was he didn't have a plan and therein lies his take-away lesson. >> starting out with an idea and trying it out, and it doesn't work. that's really frustrating. >> reporter: but for alex, the "guitar hero" robots was a winner. they did manage to weld together those bikes into a working surrey.
and what about team water totter? frankly, i was not sure this one would ever come together, but they proved me wrong. >> reporter: yeah? >> yeah. this is fun science, and that's boring science sometimes. chemistry is boring science. >> reporter: music to dale dougherty's ears-- science, engineering and math cleverly disguised as a ton of fun with friends. >> i want them to see how they can learn doing things. you know, what can you build? and if you think about it as a progression, you sort of naturally want to do more interesting things and acquire more skills, more knowledge to do that. >> reporter: makers have also learned that education doesn't begin or end at the schoolhouse door. a lot can be learned behind a garage door as well.
>> warner: finally tonight, america's lost war and its lingering hold on several generations of civilian leaders and military strategists. judy woodruff has our book conversation. >> woodruff: it's been 36 years since last helicopters lifted off the american embassy in what was then saigon, the capital of south vietnam. almost four decades since american troops fought a protracted, costly, and losing war. and ever since, that war and how it was fought has dogged presidents and american military leaders. that was the premise of the a new book "haunting legacy: vietnam and the american presidency from ford to obama." it's co-authored by a father and daughter writing team, journalist marvin kalb and deborah kalb. it's very good to have you both here. marvin kalb, why do you argue that the vietnam war and the loss of it was turning point in american history?
>> well, because up to that point, judy, the u.s. had never lost a war. friends of mine in europe have always said you guys have never been so lucky. we've lost many wars and we readjust. in the united states it took a long period of adjustments, 36, 37 years now since the end of the war, and we're still haunted presidents are, by the way in which that war affects what they think about. are we going to lose another war? how do we get out of another vietnam? these issues are on their minds. is. >> woodruff: why has it persisted that way, deborah kalb? >> i think the in addition to the idea that it was the only war that the u.s. lost, it also played an important role in a lot of these president's lives and there's three different sort of mini generations of presidents that we look at in the book, the first are the ones who are more the world war ii or just missed serving in the world
war ii generation. they are already serving as governors and congress during the war. it was more their children's generation who was affected but for a number of these presidents, the baby boomers, it was a real life decision about whether to go serve or not that really carried through their entire life. we go into a lot of detail about that, for example with george w. bush and we have a chapter on john kerry and the swift boats so now we're at the third generation with president obama who's too young to serve. >> woodruff: but even with this third generation, as you say, president obama too young to have served in vietnam, he read about it, studied it in school. it has affected these presidents differently and you write particularly democrats. why is that? >> democrats have always been saddled with the responsibility for losing wars. that's what republicans have said and since 1949 richard nixon came in when harry truman
was there as president when china turned communist and richard nixon asked "who lost china?" and i flare people at the white house right now that among obama's closest people, one of the reasons why they're so careful with that afghanistan is they don't want to lose it. they lose it, obama loses the election next year. so they are very mindful of the legacy of a lost war like vietnam. >> woodruff: deborah kalb, you all worked on this for five or six years, you learned there's an enormous amount of fresh reporting in here. do you come away the sense that one president more than the others understood vietnam, got the message, the legacy of vietnam better than the others? >> that's a great question. i think one of the presidents that maybe seemed to get it more than the others in the way we talk about it is george h.w.
bush who spoke about burying the vietnam in the sands of arabia. he went to a certain point in the gulf war, came out working successfully at that point and a year later he lost the election to bill clinton, but at that point he did seem like he had learned the lessons in a way some of the others presidents didn't. >> woodruff: is there a president, marvin kalb, who least understood the lessons of vietnam? >> well, it's a funny thing. i think they all understood in the their own way. for example, ronald reagan, when 241 marines were murdered in their barracks in beirut in october of 1983 reagan wrote in these marvelous letters "the american people have been spooked" that's his verb "by the experience in vietnam and i don't want to give them another vietnam and so we're not doing to do anything."
so he pulled american troops out of lebanon. >> woodruff: you do bring it right up to the future, deborah kalb, in writing about what president obama is dealing with today. you both write that president obama wanted more than anything to believe that vietnam was behind him. that's what he believed in the campaign. but pretty quickly he found out that wasn't the case. >> right. in an early meeting he said his his advisors "afghanistan is not vietnam." he wanted to make a clear separation. but we described in the book that there were basically two schools of thought and two books that they were reading at the time of the white house and in the pentagon that were both gone back to vietnam and lessons of vietnam. >> woodruff: the books they were looking at, marvin, with were taking different lessons. >> totally different lessons. the white house was reading a book called "lessons in disaster" and it had to do with the period in 1962 to' 6-5 and bundy was the national security
advisor for both kennedy and johnson. and the book points out that time and time again he simply made the wrong call. the american presidents and the people around them, unfortunately, were vastly ignorant of what was going on in vietnam. they saw vietnam in a cold war context. they had to win and yet they lost and so presidents after keep looking back at that experience and say "we can't run that risk." obama in his mind lives with the legacy of vietnam even though he keeps telling everybody i am post-vietnam, i'm post-cold war, i'm a new kind of leader. and it haunts him. he can't get pay way from it. >> he has to sort of fear a middle course because he's vulnerable to criticism either way. if he keeps more troops in and doesn't pull them out quickly he faces criticism that it's too costly, too expensive at a time when we don't have a lot of
money. on the other hand, if he pulls them out you can get back to the "who lost china" issue. >> woodruff: marvin kalb, will the united states ever come out from under the weight, the cloud of vietnam? will we ever come to a point where vietnam has receded so far back in our memories that it won't has this old on american presidents? >> it's a very interesting question, judy. you know that we had already seen with george bush number two to be emerged from vietnam he said in effect vietnam be damned he didn't want to deal with vietnam at all. yet when he dealt with steven hadley, his national security advisor, hadley asked him "are we going to get stuck in afghanistan and iraq the way johnson was stuck in vietnam?" and george bush said "you can count on it, we will never be in that position again. and yet he was. >> woodruff: so maybe it will have a permanent hold on american leaders?
>> i think it probably will because it is sort of the lost war and it carries a lot of emotional weight. >> woodruff: back to my original comment, the father and daughter, what's it like, marvin kalb and deborah cam working together father and daughter? >> i'll leave it to debbie. >> woodruff: we've seen husband collaborations what about this? >> this has been a wonderful experience. my father is a great journalist, he's a great person and i've learned an incredible amount. i think you feel like when you're in your 40s like i am that it's a special privilege to work with someone from an older generation who you can learn so much from. especially when he's your father. >> and my lesson on the whole thing is make sure that you t daughter you work for a debbie. (laughs) >> woodruff: great lessons from both of you. deborah kalb and mvin kalb, the book is "haunting legacy: vietnam and the american presidency from ford to obama." we thank you. >> thank you.
>> brown: again, the major developments of the day: president obama scolded lawmakers warning of a looming debt deadline and saying tax increases on the wealthy must be part of a deal to reduce the deficit. the parliament of greece endorsed new austerity measures in the face of violent protests in the streets of athens. and afghan officials searched for answers to how taliban attackers managed to storm a major kabul hotel last night. nearly 20 people were killed. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the "newshour" online. hari? >> sreenivasan: while at the maker faire, miles ran into adam savage from the popular science program "mythbusters" and asked for his take on the do-it- yourself movement. watch their conversation on our science page. and a law limiting collective bargaining rights for wisconsin state employees took effect today. we checked in with micki maynard of the midwest reporting project changing gears for an update. plus, there's a new dispatch from ray suarez on his reporting trip to indonesia. he reflects on the country's goals and its vulnerabilities. that's on the rundown blog. all that and more is on our web
>> warner: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll look at, greece's latest effort to fend off bankruptcy. i'm margaret warner. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and...